Since June 11, Linda Morris and the Marshall Longhorns Little League have teamed up, providing free warm meals at West End Park to anyone in need.
“God placed it on my heart to help people,” said Morris, the cook and coordinator of the free hot meal program.
She does it with joy, serving meals with a smile, making sure all — from the young to the elderly — leave there happy with a plate in hand, drink to stay hydrated and a Popsicle treat.
“I decided to do this because I love everybody and I don’t mind helping people,” said Morris.
Not wanting any child to go hungry for the summer, Morris, whose grandson plays for the Longhorns decided to partner up with the football team to serve meals from noon to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at West End Park — home of the Longhorns football Field.
“I see a lot of kids that be going around hungry, so I decided to do this,” Morris said. “I said let’s do something good for the community.”
It started out with only kids in mind, but she quickly extended the service to all ages to meet the needs of the poverty-stricken area. She said it’s her way of not only helping people, but also giving back to her community.
“Yea, I’m a poor person myself. I don’t have anything, but I just love to help others,” Marsh beamed.
“When it comes to kids, I just feel sorry for them,” she said of some of the neglect she sees.
Marsh’s heart is so big for disadvantaged youth that she surprised some with a special gift for Fourth of July.
“I gave away six outfits that I found on sale,” she said.
The certified nurse’s aide said the spirit to help is just in her blood.
“I’ve been like this all my life,” said Marsh.
A GREAT RESPONSE
She’s glad that the free summer meal program seems to be fulfilling a need.
“They’ve been coming appreciative,” Morris said of the crowd, sharing how many individuals walk from the neighboring Bellaire Manor Apartments for plates. Many of the children come after summer school.
“Some come and get three and four plates at a time,” said Morris. “Some of them say their mama stole their plate, can I get another one …”
Morris said they had plenty to share anyway, so decided to just extend the service to all ages.
“We be having a lot of food and stuff so we said whoever come up we’ll fix a plate; it’s all free,” she said.
The menu, made by Morris, has included ham and cheese sliders, chips and cookies; hamburgers and hotdogs; baked beans and potato salad with barbecue hot links; and spaghetti, green beans and cornbread.
“This Thursday I’m going to smother some pork chops — I’m going to barbecue some, I’m going to fry some,” said Morris. “We’re going to have pork chops, macaroni and cheese and green beans.”
Tuesday’s meal consisted of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn. Children had the option of the meatloaf meal or chili dogs with chips. Homemade teacakes by volunteer Charlene Jones were served on the side.
In addition to a great response from patrons, Morris said the free meal program has also gained a lot of support from those who believe in the cause.
“I go around and get donations from different people,” she said.
One lady, Brenda Green, was so moved by the mission that she donated an entire meal of hot links, baked beans and potato salad after running into Morris at the store and learning about her undertaking to feed the community.
“She asked me what are you going to fix next … and she volunteered to cook it and buy it,” Morris recalled.
Lisa Roberts, a regular patron, said she just admires Morris’ thoughtfulness and giving spirit.
“I just thought that was a blessing to do that,” said Roberts. “And it’s a hot meal; it’s not a prepackaged meal. It’s always a hot meal with a fruit, vegetable, meat item, chips or cookies on the side, and juice or water.
“That’s a good deed, to give back to the community,” said Roberts, sharing how good the aroma smelled coming from the concession stand Tuesday.
Jeanne Mass, who brings her family regularly, thanked Morris for their generosity.
“Thank you for thinking about the community and helping,” Mass told them Tuesday. “God bless you.”
Morris expressed appreciation to her volunteers Charlene Jones, Khismet Emory and Tanji Fisher.
“They’re real dedicated. They’ve been up here helping me through thick and thin,” she said. “They’ve been up here faithfully.”
July 30, will be the last day for the free summer hot meal program. Morris said they’ll culminate the day with fun for all.
“We’ll have bounce houses, water slides and barbecue,” said Morris. “We’re going to do the whole works. Then we’re going to try to pass out a few school clothes …. me and the Marshall Longhorns.”